Tribunal verdict of office sex harassment

Angelina Ashby
Angelina Ashby
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A SALES administrator who claimed her boss watched pornography at work and spanked a female colleague has won an employment tribunal case for sexual harassment and unfair constructive dismissal.

Angelina Ashby, aged 41, said her former employer - Chesterfield-based marine supply firm Cathelco - had “been shown for what they really are” after an eight-day Sheffield hearing.

The three-person tribunal bench, chaired by employment judge Robert Little, unanimously found Cathelco staff had been guilty of sexually harassing Miss Ashby, of Devizes Close, Chesterfield.

The bench found staff made fun of her weight and her figure, circulated an offensive cartoon about her, and sent an email around the office entitled “fat fat face”.

Highlighting an “underlying laddish culture”, Mr Little said male staff would watch pornography in the office.

Bosses failed to stamp down on behaviour which included circulating a key fob which played a message saying ‘damn you, vile woman,’ which staff said referred to Miss Ashby.

Miss Ashby had claimed sales director Peter Smith, 51, would persuade female colleagues to grab his genitals - and said on one occasion he put an administrator over his knee and spanked her.

But the bench dismissed this part of the claim, because Mr Smith’s “inappropriate behaviour” had not been reported on Miss Ashby’s initial claim for sexual harassment.

They also dismissed her claim for equal pay after hearing Miss Ashby turned down a pay rise and a £1,000 bonus. Miss Ashby, who was paid £13,500 a year, compared her work to three better-paid male sales executives. But Mr Little said they were ‘proactive’ sales staff and she was not.

Delivering the verdict, Mr Little said when Miss Ashby complained about her treatment, the company’s managing director Justin Salisbury told her she had a personality which annoyed people and claimed “in 20 years of business, Cathelco had only ever had a problem with women”.

At a later meeting the MD said he “had been very understanding and could have easily told her to ---- off”.

The firm, which continues to deny the allegations, will attend a hearing in October to discover what damages it will have to pay Miss Ashby.